Respect, inclusion forum pushes diversity conversation


MITCHELL LIERMAN / ANTELOPE STAFF UNK faculty members joined with students for a dialogue about campus diversity issues.


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UNK held its second forum in a series of dialogues relating to inclusion and respect on campus Sunday. The conversation was led by Peter Ferguson, a community stakeholder and speaker with a focus on engagement in issues of respect and diversity.

The forum sparked conversations about why the university is pursuing diversity, respect and inclusion. Attendants were challenged to answer questions about themselves, about what they need from the campus and about what progress looks like on campus.

“What are your demands of the UNK community right now?” Ferguson asked. “What does it look like for UNK to actively work to create an inclusive experience and environment for marginalized scholars and staff?”

Issues brought up ranged from the recently changed stole policy to the events of last summer following the death of George Floyd.

“We talked about Kearney as a campus community needs to have an honest look at themselves,” said Christine Fisher, a professor in teacher education, summarizing discussions she had with her group. “And we need to keep it very simple: we need to talk to our students. Do we actually have a conversation and get to know our students?”

Senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs Charles Bicak suggested continuing the momentum of this conversation into summer, noting that stipends may be available for students who engage with the university to share feedback. Bicak also noted that since the stole policy changed following the previous forum, 27 of 27 design applications have been approved.

Ferguson said using events like this as a refresher does not serve the event’s purpose.

“Accept lack of closure, but not lack of action,” Ferguson said. “I can only have so many conversations and so many interactions and so many dialogues. I don’t want [somebody] to lose a year because somebody is being refreshed. We’re all growing, things are changing constantly, but we’ve got to make some change.”